Telepsychiatry: The future of mental healthcare?

This article discusses the growth of telepsychiatry, the practice of psychiatry through video conferencing.  This technology is being used in hospitals, clinics, schools, and prisons.  The article highlights many advantages of telepsychiatry but does not discuss its shortcomings.  I think more time and research is needed before telepsychiatry can be deemed the preferred method of treatment over face-to-face interaction.

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One Response

  1. My immediate reaction to telepsychiatry is that it can’t be effective, but after reading Bill Murphy’s article, I fell a little bit more open to it. Obviously it is not a perfect solution, but better than nothing.
    “With good video equipment, a pyschiatrist can see nearly everything necessary for an optimal evaluation” Murphy writes. This is still hard for me to believe. Also, his end quote makes the issue seem too cut and dry. He says that with telepsychiatric equipment, a psychiatrist can see 15 patients in the morning and 15 patients in the afternoon whereas without the equipment, a psychiatrist would be lucky to see 5 in the morning and 5 in the afternoon. This may be true, but what is the effect on a psychologist of seeing 30 patients in one day? What is the quality of those visits?
    Despite these faults, Murphy does make some important points about the plain logistics of treating so many prisoners.
    * 30-60% of inmates suffer mental disorders
    *most physcologists live in Urban or Suburban areas (not near prisons which are ‘in the middle of nowhere’)
    *There is a lack of Psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers and they cannot travel in between prisons enough (and it would be a large cost of resources and time to travel so much)
    *It may not be the most desireable for psychologists/psychiatrists to work with prisoners.

    These are all good points. Although I still don’t think that telepsychiatry is adqeuate, given the logistics and facts, I suppose that it is better than no treatment at all. We should strive to get better treatment for prisoners and not acccept telepsychiatry as ok because I think that what prisoners really lack is human contact and genuine care for their well being- this is hard to relate through a video screen.

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